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The Women Who Make Us Grape: Amy Bennett

(Photo: The Brooklyn Hospital Center)


Throughout Women’s History Month, we’re featuring some of the women who make the Greene Grape the amazing place it is. The Greene Grape family of businesses is woman-powered, both historically and currently, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t shine a well-deserved spotlight on at least a few of these
grape women. 

This week, we’re chatting with Greene Grape founder and owner Amy Bennett, lawyer turned entrepreneur. Amy is our fearless leader here at Greene Grape Wine & Spirits, Provisions, and Annex. Her business acumen paired with her high standards make her a powerful force in the food world.

What inspired you to open Provisions? 

I was inspired to open Greene Grape Provisions when I was a young mom learning to cook.  I wanted to learn how to sear scallops. I bought some at the local grocery and tried again and again but could never get a nice brown sear on them, which I chalked up to my poor cooking skills. Turns out that because they are sold by weight, some stores soak them to absorb water.  Meaning you can’t really get a sear on them. That’s when I realized that access to quality ingredients is key. Try roasting one of our air-chilled chickens instead of a water-chilled one—you’ll see the difference pretty quick. 

What’s been your experience as a woman in the food industry? 

When I first started out, I asked my refrigeration case salesperson for a female grocery mentor. He’d been in the business over 40 years and at the time, he couldn’t think of a single female-run store. It’s been an adventure, from meat salespeople who shorted me and hoped I wouldn’t notice, to outside vendors trying (and failing) to undermine my female managers, with competitors underestimating me all the while.

On the plus side, people who are willing to work with or for a female owner without bias or baloney tend to be quality people. I’ve been fortunate enough to have an amazing landlord who saw my business grow up on the block and believed in me from the beginning. But I’m most grateful for the amazing employees past and present who have kept The Grape in business for 15 years (In retail! In NYC!) and who are living the values we promote: Being kind, considerate, helpful and empathetic to our customers, vendors and each other. 

What is your favorite product on our shelves? 

This is like picking a favorite child, which I refuse to do! They’re all amazing in different ways. As a working mother, I could not do without our grab-n-go kale caesar and beet salad for me and our house made mac and cheese for the kids. Recently for a special occasion, I had our dry-aged bone-in grass-fed ribeye steaks cooked to perfection and they were mind-blowingly delicious.. My go-tos in produce are Gotham Greens lettuces and Square Root basil, which I combine with our house made mozzarella,  chopped fresh tomato and our house made sweet italian sausage over pasta for an easy school night dinner.

Who is your Women’s History Month shero? 

It’s hard to choose just one, but definitely on the list: Sonia Sotomayor. That might come across as political, but I feel such a kinship with her. She came from nothing, got over feeling less-than, and now presides over the highest court in the land. She also advocated for others along the way and was not afraid to stand up to the status quo. I had the honor of interviewing with her when she was a SDNY judge and her energy is infectious.

Carla Bueno-SandersThe Women Who Make Us Grape: Amy Bennett
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The Women Who Make Us Grape: Laura Rose

Throughout Women’s History Month, we’re featuring some of the women who make the Greene Grape the amazing place it is. The Greene Grape family of businesses is woman-powered, both historically and currently, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t shine a well-deserved spotlight on at least a few of these grape women. 

This week, we’re chatting with our Produce Buyer, Laura Rose Dailey. Laura Rose and her department make sure anyone’s first impression of Provisions is a beautiful one as they step through our front door! With her agricultural background and passion for growing green things, she’s a perfect fit for the job, and we couldn’t do it without her. 

What got you into the world of agriculture and produce? 

I took a course on coffee ecologies and livelihoods in college and had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador to spend some time with the coffee farmers there. That experience rocked my world, and truly opened my eyes to the injustices of our food system. A few years later I decided I wanted to learn how to grow food, and took a farming apprenticeship at Amber Waves, a mixed vegetable production farm on the East End of Long Island. It was on that land where I fell in love with farming and spent the next four years (plus two winters on the other side of the equator!) growing vegetables. 

What’s been part of your experience as a woman working in agriculture? 

At Amber Waves, it often felt like we were in a bubble all our own, being owned and staffed by women. On the other hand, the people delivering our farm equipment, seeds, and other necessary items were usually men, and some of them broke that bubble with their questions. “Who’s really in charge here? Are you really farmers?” It was a reminder that a farm run by women is considered an anomaly, but we were never discouraged. Owners Amanda Merrow and Katie Baldwin showed me how far women could go in agriculture—I really look up to them. 

What’s your favorite produce? 

I can’t pick just one! I have three. Radishes: The feeling and sight of pulling a bright red, snackable root out of the ground is so satisfying and beautiful. Also, they’re a fast growing crop (~40 days seed to harvest) AKA almost instant gratification. Baby greens: Another fast growing crop, and there’s nothing like a salad made with crispy flavorful right outta the ground greens! And finally, eggplant: As a farmer on Long Island, growing eggplant is a lot of work because of the Colorado Potato Beetle. This pest feeds on the young tender leaves, and if left alone will completely destroy the plant and therefore the crop. For farmers, this meant that every other day, we’d have to check each plant on every leaf for signs of infestation. If we managed to beat the bugs and have a successful eggplant crop, we were eating eggplant parm for weeks. 🙂

Carla Bueno-SandersThe Women Who Make Us Grape: Laura Rose
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She Can Do It: Food by Women

It’s no secret that Greene Grape Provisions is a woman-forward company. We’re woman-owned, and we employ women every level throughout the store from General Manager to cashier. This week, as we enter Women’s History Month and approach International Women’s Day, we’d like to celebrate not only the women inside our company, but also the woman-made products we carry.

Annie’s Ginger Elixir has been on our shelves for just a few years now, but we feel like we can’t remember a time without them! This spicy drink is a go-to whenever sniffles and aches arise, but it’s not just for special occasions, either. The perfect blend of ginger, honey, lemon, hibiscus and berries, its sweet kick is refreshing in any season. Annie herself is a Fort Greene resident, and a Greene Grape customer herself! 

No yogurt has ever been as rich and decadent as White Moustache, in our humble opinion. Homa Dashtaki brings old world Persian flavors and techniques to our modern world, packaged up in iconic glass jars in Red Hook. (We’ve even reused those jars for our house made candles in the past!) Using milk from a Hudson Valley co-op of family farms, these yogurts—and labneh, and whey—are an everyday delicacy we reach for again and again. 

MOMO dressing is a staple of the produce department, despite being in a bottle. That’s because it’s as fresh as the fruits and veggies that surround it! Made by Masaki and Yukimi Momose, MOMO is made with fresh local produce whenever possible, by a small team that still sells weekly at Brooklyn farmers markets. You may even recognize Yukimi from her tastings at our store! 

The early bird might get the worm, but Early Bird Granola gets one better, and that’s being a Greene Grape favorite year after year. Nekisia Davis keeps her Brooklyn roots by operating out of a Red Hook kitchen, but her ambitions aren’t limited to just one borough. She took her small-batch granola from being a side hustle for her day job managing a famous Brooklyn pizzeria to being an international sensation. Her flavors speak for themselves—simple but well-developed, with only a handful of ingredients. 

SD Sauce brings the heat and flavor, earning its reputation as one of the best hot sauces in our store. Sutta Saraphum grew up in Thailand, learning to cook both at her mother’s side and in some of Thailand’s most popular restaurants. When she came to the US, however, she couldn’t find her favorite Nam Jim dipping sauce. Frustrated by “ethnic aisle” sauces full of vinegar and preservatives, Sutta began making her own from scratch with straightforward, fresh ingredients. This made for such bold flavors that in 2015 Sutta began bottling her “spicy delicious” (SD!) sauce, and it’s been a hit ever since. 

We’ve only just scratched the surface of the woman-made products Provisions carries, but we hope you love them as much as we do! 

Carla Bueno-SandersShe Can Do It: Food by Women
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Have You Herb? Herbal Teas to Soothe the Soul

In the American pantheon of hot drinks, coffee usually claims the throne, but tea is our unsung hero. Whether chasing away sniffles, winding down after a hard day, or soothing ourselves to sleep, tea does a lot of heavy lifting! This week, Produce Buyer Laura Rose Dailey is excited to bring a plethora of herbal teas to our shelves.

Coming to us from Lancaster Farmacy and Full Kettle Farm, these herbal teas are for everything from getting better sleep to aiding in the fight against the common cold. Both are locally sourced from Pennsylvania and Massachussetts, on small, family farms.

Lancaster Farmacy was founded in 2009 by Elisabeth Weaver and Casey Spacht, who saw the need for reclaiming health care and making it accessible at the local level. Their background of grassroots activism, community organizing, cooperative models, farming, herbalism, and rewilding gave them the tools needed to grow natural medicine.

Follow them on Instagram: @lancasterfarmacy

Full Kettle Farm is a one acre herb farm in Sunderland, Massachusetts that grows a diversity of vibrant herbs for their exclusive line of delicious herbal teas. The herbs are grown and harvested by hand at peak vitality, then dried on site in their wood framed herb drying room.

Follow them on Instagram: @fullkettle

Carla Bueno-SandersHave You Herb? Herbal Teas to Soothe the Soul
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Nom Nom Nomz: Soup Anytime, Almost Anywhere

While we’ve hyped up our house made soups in the past, as well as West African Egunsi soups, there’s a third option to warm you up without having to have the stock pot simmering all day. Nomz soups, in four delicious pan-Asian varieties, have all the flavor you’re looking for, with none of the work.

Founders Tony and Cat wanted to hark back to their parents’ savory Asian soups, often made in large, family-size batches with leftovers frozen for later. They also wanted a healthier option for fellow busy New Yorkers than greasy fast food or watching produce wilt in the back of the fridge. So they launched Nomz, crafted from traditional Asian recipes, with authentic flavors including Chinese chicken shiitake and Korean brisket radish, using clean ingredients like organic chicken and local mushrooms, and no preservatives ever.

Stock up on Nomz at home for those nights when stepping in front of the stove is just a little more than you can handle, or stash some in the freezer at work; just make sure they’re clearly labeled, because everyone will want some!

Follow Nomz on Instagram: @eatnomz

Carla Bueno-SandersNom Nom Nomz: Soup Anytime, Almost Anywhere
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The Only Comfort Food That Matters: A Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

When it comes to comfort food, everyone’s got their top five, but no one can disagree: Mac and cheese reigns supreme. There’s something about even the basest combination of pasta and saucy cheese that makes it as satisfying to cook as it is to eat. Because it’s such a blank canvas, it means everyone also has their own take on how to put together this classic dish.

This week, in the spirit of staying home and keeping cozy, we’re offering a recipe that’s a collaboration between our Beer Buyer, Brian Cullen, and our own Carla Bueno. Plymouth Hot Pepper Cheddar provides a strong base with a nice kick, while Aarewasser brings a buttery, raclette-style richness that will deepen all your flavors.

Brian recommends the Greenhouse Pils from Evil Twin Brewing NYC to pair with this mac. This super crisp, light yet flavorful German-style pilsner balances perfectly against the dense, savory richness of the king of comfort food.

Ingredients:

1 lb (or 500g) macaroni pasta
1/2 lb Plymouth Hot Pepper Cheddar, coarsely grated
1/2 lb Aarewasser, chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp cultured butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground sage
Salt & pepper to taste
2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

Let’s Get Cooking!

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or otherwise grease a 9×13 baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring salted boiling water to a boil, and cook your pasta of choice according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, melt 2 tbsp butter in large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Cook garlic in butter for no longer than 30 seconds, then add flour and whisk to create your roux. Reduce temperature to medium-low.
  4. Begin pouring heavy cream in small quantities into your roux, whisking as you go to create your bechamel. Refrain from pouring until previous pour has fully combined with the roux.
  5. Repeat with buttermilk. Remember, you don’t need to rush this!
  6. Once your bechamel is complete, add salt, pepper, paprika, mustard, and sage. Let simmer while you chop your scallions.
  7. Add that cheese into your bechamel! Set a small amount of cheddar aside, equivalent to about 1/8 cup.
  8. Once the cheese is fully incorporated, add your cooked pasta and chopped scallions, mixing well.
  9. Pour the entire contents of the sauté pan into your 9×13 greased baking pan.
  10. In a small skillet, melt remaining tbsp of butter and add your breadcrumbs, toasting and coating them. Combine with remaining cheddar and quickly spread the mixture across the top of the macaroni and cheese.
  11. Place baking pan in oven for 30 minutes until breadcrumb topping is crispy, then allow to cool before serving. Don’t forget the beer!
Carla Bueno-SandersThe Only Comfort Food That Matters: A Macaroni & Cheese Recipe
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A Valentine Of Any Flavor

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a greeting card company holiday! Throw out those narrow definitions of who gets to be your Valentine, and choose whoever you like—including yourself. Likewise, Valentine treats don’t always have to be sweet, and we’re leaning into our salty side, too. This Valentine’s Day, we’re continuing our tradition of sourcing our collection from small, often local producers. No mass-produced chocolates in a heart-shaped box here!

For the Valentine who appreciates artistry and detail, these hand-painted chocolate roses from Maggie Louise Confections are sure to spark inspiration. Hailing from Austin, TX—considered by many to be one of Brooklyn’s unofficial sister cities—Maggie Louise Confections was founded by a New Yorker far from home, and each chocolate piece is crafted with singular care.

These Sweeter Cards dark chocolate bars are the perfect edible alternative to a greeting card. Each bar, filled with pockets of salted caramel, is made with Fair Trade Certified™ ingredients, like the cane sugar in their caramel. Small batches of caramel in copper kettles, stirred by hand, ensure the highest quality for the best expression of your sweetest feelings.

The Upper West Side’s own Treat House has stocked our shelves with their whimsical crispy rice treats! Bright pops of color bring the nostalgia, making it a perfect small gift for the Valentine you’ve known since back in the day.

Of course, we’ve also got plenty of classic Brooklyn favorites, like Fine & Raw, Eat Chic, and Raaka! Whatever flavor of feelings you indulge in this weekend—sweet, salty, and everything in between—we’re sure to have just the treats you and yours are craving. Shop our Valentine’s Day collection here!

Carla Bueno-SandersA Valentine Of Any Flavor
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In the Spotlight: André Hueston Mack & Mouton Noir

Black History Month may be the shortest of the year, but we’re committed to celebrating the achievements of African and African-Americans tastemakers and industry shakers all the time. In the spotlight this week, sommelier, winemaker, author, and restauranteur André Hueston Mack.

Born in Trenton, NJ, Mack left a successful career in investment banking to pursue his passion for the vine. In the early 2000s, he went to work at The Palm in San Antonio Texas, his education in wine beginning in earnest on the sales floor. From the start, he loved introducing guests to lesser known regions and vineyards, sharing in their joy at discovering new flavors and tastes.

At the age of 30, he became the first African American to win the title of Best Young Sommelier in America, and in short order joined the opening team at Thomas Keller’s legendary Per Sé, which was where he met his spouse, author Phoebe Damrosch. Mack’s wine lists there garnered national attention — he was featured in Wine Spectator, The New York Times, The Huffington Post,The Wall Street Journal, and Black Enterprise.

In 2007, Mack struck out on his own with Mouton Noir Wines, a project that incorporated his love of hip-hop, street culture, and the philosophy of “wine for all.” Unique and distinctive, Mack’s wines are sourced from some Of the best vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley region, each sip showcasing the individuality of their unique terroirs. Today, he produces 30,000 cases which can be found in the restaurants and retail stores in 11 countries and 45 states, including two in New York—including Vyneyard and his latest, & Sons Hamlet.

Mack is a passionate wine educator who has led seminars and panel discussions at several food and wine gatherings including The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado and the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival. He also curates wines for Club W, a wine club for a new generation of drinkers, to continue his mission of making wine more accessible.

Wanna learn more? Follow André Hueston Mack on Instagram @andrehmack, then join Wine & Spirits on February 12 for a special in-store tasting from 5pm to 7pm.

Carla Bueno-SandersIn the Spotlight: André Hueston Mack & Mouton Noir
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Chill Vibes Only: Frozen Treats with a Twist

While the record-breaking heatwave has abated, it’s still hot enough out to drive New Yorkers outside. Plenty of folks will be reveling in this weekend’s round of Summer Streets in Manhattan, or taking a good stretch with yoga in Fort Greene Park. Others might be looking to take it easier with a refreshing class at the Annex. Whether you need to cool off after a good workout or looking to chill out in the heat, we’ve got some fresh takes on classic frozen treats you’ll want to check out!

There’s no doubt that freezer pops are a summer staple, with their brightly-colored tubes cooling off kids and adults alike for generations. Those same bright colors, however, usually come from being loaded with artificial colors and stabilizers. Founded by a New York mom who wanted simple, wholesome summer treats for her six month old son, Smooth Pops bring all the nostalgia of freezer pops without all the baggage. Each small-batch variety blends whole fruit into delicious combinations full of bright flavor, and ingredients are seasonally sourced from local farmers whenever possible.

While Smooth Pops are brand new to our freezer, we’d like to shine the spotlight on another frozen treat that has been a Greene Grape mainstay since the brand’s debut in 2016. Noona’s ice cream is a uniquely Asian-American indulgence, with flavors ranging ranging from traditional black sesame to new twists like toasted rice and turmeric honeycomb. With local milk and organic ingredients, as well as non-dairy versions of some of their most popular flavors, Noona’s is truly a cut above!

Carla Bueno-SandersChill Vibes Only: Frozen Treats with a Twist
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Game Day Grub: Don’t Fumble That Feast!

From the most faithful sports fiend to the folks throwing together snacks with friends, it’s hard not to get swept up in the fanfare of the biggest game day in American sports. There’s something electric in the air, and there’s something on the table, too! You’ll want an epic spread to match an epic game, and our Game Day collection will make sure no one goes hungry.

Every party needs chips and dip; be the MVP when you bring Xochitl Tortilla Chips and our neighborhood-famous guacamole. Of course, this feast won’t be complete without sandwiches, and our signature sandwiches will feed both the most ravenous meat-lover and the strictest vegan. Load up on sides like pulled chicken or farro salad, too, to keep from making mid-game snack runs.

If you’re looking to bring a centerpiece to the party, swing by our cheese counter, where our expert cheesemongers will help you perfect your snacking strategy. Put together a winning cheese and charcuterie platter with their help (and don’t forget any of the accompaniments!), or order ahead and let us take care of the details.

For those doing most of their hosting from the kitchen, our whole animal butcher counter’s housemade sausages and short rib burgers will make cooking for the whole team a snap. (Don’t worry, we didn’t leave out plant-based partiers.)

We’re placing our bets, though, that party prepping might be overwhelming some folks. Local delivery is always an easy option! But our head chef, Andrew Werblin, has put together a game day catering menu guaranteed to kick things up a notch. Classics like loaded potato skins are real crowd-pleasers, and so is our elevated take on seven layer dip. Our catering team delivers beyond our local zone, so you’ll never have to worry about being too far from the end zone.

Carla Bueno-SandersGame Day Grub: Don’t Fumble That Feast!
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